Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You are Not Here

Check out the pictures on of the new maps inside Marshal Fields soon to be Macys.

Problem 1: It’s Randolph Ave? It’s Washington Ave? Since when?

Problem 2: You are not actually where they claim you are.

Problem 3: Where’s the information desk? You know, the place to go to make complaints and ask questions? Not there.

When Mike of chicagocarless and I walked through Marshal Fields, we were cutting through to get to his hallowed home at Marina City to pick up a camera for a work assignment and to see how the transition from Chicagocentric icon to New York transplant was going.

Apparently not so well. It seems that Federated in lieu of hiring a proofreader stocked up on bright red markers. What makes Chicagoans like myself most nervous about a local icon being converted into a franchise of a national chain is what Federated has avoided so far: the downgrading of an important local institution into a excessively profit driven outpost of faceless corporatism. Marshal Fields, the store, the man, the family and the Marshal Fields Foundation have long histories of supporting community development and organizing efforts in Chicago. (some of Saul Alinsky’s earliest work was financed by Fields IV). Federated seemed to be making strong steps towards the goal of maintaining and improving the viability of a local institution. You would think the internal store maps would be a simple detail.

Apparently not.

This is the embodiment of every Chicago-centric anti-Macy-ite’s worst nightmare. From the day it was announced that Marshall Fields would become Macys, the whispers were of the tolling of the funeral bells for a Chicago icon.

You know, if they can’t even get the street names right or the location of their own information desk, maybe the doomsayers were right.

The transformation of the bulk of Chicago’s commercial areas into Anytown Strip mall is entering its endgame.

There’s always Woodfield Mall, I guess.


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